On Thursday March 27th, CGCM’s Director Dr. Dana Robert moderated a panel on ‘Christianity and Spirituality in the African Diaspora,’ presented by the Association of Black Seminarians. Dr. Robert opened her remarks by highlighting some of the history of Boston University’s School of Theology and Africa, a relationship that richly intersects civil rights and human rights, many through mission connections of African Americans in Africa. The School of Theology also has a history of faculty teaching and researching Africa, as well as people with ongoing ministries in the continent.
The panelists were diverse and included pastor and doctoral student Rev. Derek Muwina, ethicist Dr. Peter Paris, and African historian Dr. John Thornton. Rev. Muwina addressed some of the challenges that Christians should address going forward, such as the inclusion and recognition of women, so that churches can embrace the full dignity of all its members. Dr. Paris pointed to African indigenous religions as a potential resource for constructing a holistic and contextualized African theology. Dr. Thorton shared his research that shows Africans from the Congo were active in introducing African Catholic Christianity to Diaspora communities in the New World. The panel was attended by faculty, students, and members of the community, and a lively discussion followed. This was a successful start to hopefully more discussions in the School of Theology about religion in the African Diaspora.
The Association of Black Seminarians presents a panel on ‘Christianity and Spirituality in the African Diaspora.’ The Panelists are Dr. Peter Paris, Dr. John Thornton and Rev. Derek Muwina. CGCM director Dr. Dana Robert will be the moderator.
Date and Time: March 27th at 5:30-7:15
Place: CAS B 36
A new Pew Research Center survey of global religious hostilities has been released. The survey found that one-third of the 198 countries surveyed showed a high level of social hostilities involving religion, the highest it has been since the survey began in 2007. A Christian Science Monitor story probes the causes and consequences of the change.
The American Society of Missiology (ASM) used its 40th annual meeting to consider the future of the discipline. Two hundred people attended, a forty percent increase over any previous ASM gathering. The sessions, June 21-23, were structured around four plenary presentations which acted as springboards for smaller organized conversations about the future of the society and the discipline of missiology. Periodic breakout paper presentations demonstrated the current vitality and fecundity of mission studies.
Dana Robert led the first plenary session through “Forty Years of the American Society of Missiology: Retrospect and Prospect.” Through a thick description of the early years of the society, she demonstrated that the ASM overcame suspicion about the academic legitimacy of missiology through the tools of collaboration and convergence, church growth, and contextualization. Between 1989 and 1991, she observed, mission studies demonstrated how much it had grown. A series of events and publications revealed how missiology was no longer an embattled or tangential area of study, but a source of generative ideas that was influencing theology, ecclesiology and church history. Finally, around the year 2000, she suggested that the awareness of Christianity as a worldwide religion moved beyond mission studies. The global reality of Christianity energized missiological thinking, even as it challenged some of the inaugural aspects of the ASM itself. In a global age, for instance, she asked what is uniquely American about the American Society of Missiology. Subsequent discussions returned to her description of the past and questions about the future, especially as people tried to think through what collaboration and convergence might mean for the ASM now.
The other plenary sessions explored missiology from different angles. Dwight Zscheile (Luther Seminary) offered a “Next Generation Perspective.” His presentation prompted participants to explore how missiology could foster an atmosphere for churches to experiment and even fail. Later, Jehu Hanciles (Emory University) spoke to the ASM from a “Global South Perspective,” which sparked numerous conversations on how the society could become more inclusive. In his Presidential address, Craig Van Gelder (Luther Seminary) advocated for local congregations to be seen as the primary missionaries. The discipline of missiology, he suggested, needs to be calibrated according to its congregational subject.
The meetings ended with summations from the small group conversations. The future of the discipline of missiology remains an open question, but the liveliness of the conversations and breadth of the papers presented over the weekend suggest missiology is rapidly expanding, and traveling in multiple directions.
–Reported by Daryl Ireland
Thanks to EMU for permission to post it!